Congress is preparing to take action on a bipartisan proposal to raise taxes on flu vaccines. This is not a tax on the wealthy, but rather on a broad swath of Americans, or at least those who choose to be immunized against the flu.

In February, identical bills were introduced in the House and Senate to add seasonal flu vaccines to the IRS code as taxable. The legislation would exact a 75¢ per dose tax on any “vaccine against seasonal influenza.” Given that the Centers for Disease Control projects that 135 million doses of flu vaccine will be used this year, the government’s take on flu vaccines alone is over $100,000,000 per year.

The House bill (H.R. 475) was submitted on February 4, by Republican Jim Gerlach with Democrat Richard Neal co-sponsoring, and the Senate version (S. 391) was submitted by Democrat Max Baucus and co-sponsor Republican Orrin Hatch. The same legislation had been introduced in the 112th Congress just months ago.  The House version died in committee, but the Senate version actually passed by unanimous consent the day it was introduced.

Continue reading →